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American Field Service World War II Photographic Collection

Overview

Abstract

Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Photographs

Negatives

Slides

Albums

Unsorted 1



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American Field Service World War II Photographic Collection, 1939-1956 | Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs

By Nicole Milano

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Collection Overview

Title: American Field Service World War II Photographic Collection, 1939-1956Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

Predominant Dates:1940-1945

ID: RG2/002

Creator: American Field Service

Extent: 15.09 Cubic Feet. More info below.

Arrangement:

This collection is partially processed by genre into the following four series: Prints, Negatives, Lantern Slides, and Albums.

See the individual series descriptions for more information.

Languages: English

Abstract

The American Field Service (AFS) was an ambulance organization founded in World War I and reactivated in 1939 under the leadership of Director General Stephen Galatti.  American volunteers drove ambulances in France, North Africa, the Middle East, Italy, Germany, and India and Burma, and carried over 700,000 casualties by the end of World War II.  The World War II Photographic Collection includes photographic prints, negatives, lantern slides, and photographic albums collected by American Field Service staff at their New York headquarters during World War II.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The World War II Photographic Collection includes photographic prints, negatives, lantern slides, and photographic albums collected by American Field Service (AFS) staff at their New York headquarters during World War II.  AFS commissioned staff photographers to take photographs of the events and activities of the organization in the various theaters of war.  The photographers would then send the negatives or prints (if they were able to develop them in the field) back to AFS headquarters in New York.  These images were used by AFS for documentation, public relations, and publicity purposes.

The photographic records of the American Field Service’s activities in World War II are useful in the study of American involvement prior to the United States’ entrance into the war in 1942, and the continued service alongside foreign forces until the cessation of wartime hostilities in 1945.  The collection depicts the voluntary activities of AFS (including assisting injured soldiers), local landscapes and civilians (including images of Damascus and civilians in Italy), major events and battles in the war (including the Battle of Monte Cassino and the evacuation of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp after its liberation), and groups and individuals involved in the war (including ambulance drivers and British military personnel who served alongside AFS.)

See the individual series descriptions for more information.

Administrative Information

Alternate Extent Statement: 30 boxes

Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research.  Cotton gloves are required for the handling of all photographic material.  The lantern slides are very fragile, and some have become cracked or broken over time.  As such, permission to view the lantern slides must be obtained from the AFS Archives in advance.  The rolled photographs in Series 1 are brittle and consequently not available for research at this time.

Use Restrictions: Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Archives. In the event that this research becomes a source for publication, a credit line indicating the Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs is required. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions.

Acquisition Method: This collection was compiled by the American Field Service staff during World War II, and was transferred to the Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs at an unknown date. Two albums put together by Carl Zeigler, as well as black and white slides produced by Carl Zeigler, were donated to AFS in 1971 by his wife, Elinor Zeigler.

Appraisal Information: The photographs and negatives in the Irving Penn Photographic Collection (RG2/003) were originally part of this collection, but were separated by the AFS Archives staff as a topical collection at an unknown date.  Because Penn’s photographs were removed after the war by AFS Archives staff, some of his photographs may still remain unidentified in the official AFS World War II Photographic Collection (such as the “Ambulances and Plaques” folder in Subseries 1E, which has what seems to be Penn’s handwriting on the verso of the photographs.)  No other material has been removed, separated, or deaccessioned.

Related Materials: There are many World War II photographs in the Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs that were donated by American Field Service (AFS) ambulance drivers or their heirs after the war.  These can be identified by searching the “Photographs” subject term in the finding aid list.  For photographs taken by Irving Penn, who served as an AFS staff photographer in Italy and India, see the Irving Penn Photographic Collection (RG2/003.)  For photographic material related to the involvement of AFS in World War I, see the American Field Service World War I Photographic Collection (RG1/002.)

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], [Date]; World War II Photographic Collection; Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs, New York, NY.

Processing Information: This collection was partially processed by AFS Archives staff at an unknown date, and again by Nicole Milano in 2011 and 2018.  Preliminary finding aid written and encoded in EAD by Nicole Milano in June 2011 under the scope of the 2010-2011 Basic Processing grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and updated in 2018.


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Photographs, ca. 1939-1956 (bulk 1940-1945)],
[Series 2: Negatives, ca. 1939-1946],
[Series 3: Slides, ca. 1941-1945],
[Series 4: Albums, 1940-1945],
[Unsorted 1],
[All]

Series 4: Albums, 1940-1945Add to your cart.

1.38 cubic feet (3 boxes)

This series contains four photographic albums intended for public relations purposes for the American Field Service during World War II.  The first album contains photographic prints in a variety of sizes of the first ambulance unit traveling to France in 1940 (FR 40), and includes images of the seventeen drivers (including Peter Muir) and their arrival at the Gare de Lyon in Paris, their quarters at the Cité Universitaire, and their leisure time in the city (including lunch at a cafe.)  Most of the photographs are captioned, although some captions and a few photographs appear to be missing.

The second and third albums were compiled by AFS staff photographer Carl Zeigler, who served in unit CM 88 as a member of the 567 British Ambulance Car Company (Coy.)  The albums are a two-volume photographic and narrative history of 567 Coy from 1944 to 1945.  Most of the photographs are around 8” x 5 ¼” in size.  It is unclear whether Zeigler compiled the albums or if he sent captions and contact prints back to AFS headquarters in New York during the war.  The photographs are all accompanied by informative and often colorful narrative captions, which are written in the first person.  These numbered captions were likely written or inspired by Zeigler.  It appears that most of the photographs were taken by Zeigler, and those that were not (including a photograph of a driver “holding up” the Leaning Tower of Pisa) are usually indicated in the caption.  The albums document the actions of the company in moving from one war theater to another (from Italy with the British 8th Army, through Germany with the British Liberation Army.)  Both albums depict daily activities and travel, as well as local civilians and ruined towns.  The first album begins in Italy and ends with the arrival of 567 Coy in Marseilles, France, after they left the British 8th Army in Italy.  The second album begins in Marseilles when the drivers learn of the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and ends with a series of personnel photographs after images of VJ Day.  Most significantly, the second album includes graphic images of the evacuation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp by “C” and “D” platoons of 567 Company in 1945.

The final album is unbound and encapsulated, and includes 2 ½” x 3” photographs of 567 Coy in Italy, on an LST to Marseilles, France, and with the British Liberation Army at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp (ca. 1944-1945), and ends before VJ Day.  The photographer is unknown, although many of the images are the same or very similar to photographs in the two Carl Zeigler albums.  The album appears to have been put together overseas, as indicated by the military censor stamp on the bottom of each page.  It is possible that these unbound album pages were sent to New York headquarters during the war, and that Carl Zeigler put together the two bound albums after the war and then sent them to New York headquarters. 

The photographic albums are in their original order, as arranged by those who compiled them.

Box 25: France- Unbound Album, 1940-1945Add to your cart.
Box 26: Carl Zeigler Album, Volume 1, 1944-1945Add to your cart.
Box 27: Carl Zeigler Album, Volume 2, 1944-1945Add to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Photographs, ca. 1939-1956 (bulk 1940-1945)],
[Series 2: Negatives, ca. 1939-1946],
[Series 3: Slides, ca. 1941-1945],
[Series 4: Albums, 1940-1945],
[Unsorted 1],
[All]


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